Everybody loves Slack. The easy going chat application took the startup world by storm a couple of years ago, and has been going strong ever since.
But maybe you don’t feel comfortable going with Slack? After all, it isn’t perfect. Its free plan limits context search quite drastically, it forces you to rely on their servers, and in case you need a little bit of customization, well, you’re out of luck.
Fortunately, there are some very good chat alternatives out there, alternatives that can help ensure excellent communication between you and your remote team(s).
HipChat: Slack’s Predecessor Is Still Well-Loved
Despite Slack’s huge popularity, HipChat was the original team-wide chat darling, preceding Slack by a few years.
In terms of key features, it can go toe-to-toe with Slack, offering group and private chat, file sharing, and integrations, secure guest access, unlimited file transfer, and 256-bit SSL Encryption, among other things. The interface itself is quite similar to Slack’s, as well.
Hip Chat’s biggest trump card is the pricing: the free version grants you more than twice of Slack’s search history, while a pro subscription will only cost you $2 USD per user per month – less than a third of Slack’s cheapest offer.
There’s also the option of hosting your own HipChat server, if you want the security and reliability that comes with that – though pricing skyrockets if you decide to go this route. Still, Slack won’t even give you the option.
On the other hand, there are a few cons: HipChat is not very customizable; the UI aesthetic feels dated when compared to Slack’s clean and modern look; and users that have made the switch often report that HipChat feels slower and less responsive in comparison.
Jostle: A Beautiful and Fully-Featured Solution for Larger Organizations
Some people find that Slack is too simple for their taste. They want more powerful, more features. In fact, a survey conducted by softwareadvice.com found out that 60 percent of project teams prefer using fully featured project management software to communicate and collaborate, rather than relying on a separate chat tool.
Jostle aims to bridge the gap by functioning as a fully-featured social network intranet for your business. Not only does it provide Slack-like enterprise-grade chat, it also provides more advanced management features such as event planning, a centralized file library, multiple team support, and rich user profiles. More importantly, it’s beautiful and user-friendly.
For many companies, a big issue is that people tend to disregard chat software. The benefits of chat search and advanced communication tools are lost if some of the people in the team or organization don’t use it. That’s why Jostle user engagement is its number one customer success metric – and they claim to drive employee engagement levels up by 500%.
In many ways, Jostle is specifically billed as a solution to build a healthy culture when many employees are remote. As put by Jostle’s CEO, Brad Palmer:
“For dispersed organizations, Jostle’s platform becomes the most tangible realization of the company itself – the go-to place to participate in workplace culture, understand organizational goals, and celebrate success.”
There are a few cons, however: just like Slack, this is an entirely cloud-based solution. You can’t set up Jostle in your own server. It’s also aimed at big organizations: packages start at a minimum of 25 users, and at a rate of $8 USD per user, it’s more expensive that Slack – though the price does go down as the number of users goes up.
Mattermost: The Power of Open Source
Backed by GitLab, Mattermost bills itself as “the” Slack open-source alternative, while claiming to out-do its competitor in nearly every area.
In fact, Mattermost’s “free forever” Team Edition covers almost every feature a paid slack subscription gets you, while adding some great perks. Especially relevant for the IT remote crowd is the easy-to-use syntax highlighting of code blocks, allowing programmers to share code directly in the messaging app with no fuss and with perfect formatting.
But there’s more that can be of interest when working with remote employees. For one thing, Mattermost supports many more languages and alphabets, catering to your non-english native employees. Another useful feature is the single login per user: regardless of how many teams a user works with, they will be able to communicate with all of them without having to constantly switch accounts.
Finally, Mattermost is almost endlessly customizable, from supporting full markdown formatting across all messages, to supporting fully customizable themes that can help build a sense of identity for your brand and teams.
What are the cons? Well, if you are looking for a cloud-based solution, you’re out of luck; unlike Slack, you need a server dedicated to running Mattermost. The enterprise edition, in the meantime, is quite expensive, with prices starting at $20 USD per user. It’s worth remembering, though: Mattermost’s free version offers more functionality than its competitors’ paid versions.
Slack is a wonderful tool, and deservedly popular. But we don’t live in a “one-size-fits-all” world, and it’s perfectly possible that Slack won’t fit your needs or meet your standards.
The three alternatives presented above are all top-class performers, competitively priced, and bring something extra to the table. DistantJob remote employees are familiar with a number of these solutions, and sometimes, use a combination of products for communication and project management depending on the company they work with.
Our remote placement agency helps clients onboard and manage remote staff, and based on your needs, can make recommendations as to the solution that may be right for your company and your global remote teams. Call us at 888.866.7343 to find out how DistantJob remote work and management resources can work for you.
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